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Monday, December 7, 2015

Post-Second Surgery #cancerisabitch Update

Previously on "Joe's Adventures in the Medical System..."

Anyhoo...my second surgery ended up not happening until Friday, November 20th due to a combination of insurance company bureaucracy and a primary care doctor's office that was either closed when it's normally open or whose staff is a touch incompetent when turning their phone system on and off. Oh, and on Thursday the 12th, the night before it was originally set, I got a call saying they had to cancel because an important piece of equipment (that helps guide the surgeon to the points he needs to work on) was malfunctioning and had to be repaired. So instead of surgery they had me get another MRI to make sure it was as current as possible. Boy, weren't they surprised when I showed up for work the following Monday!

The surgery went well, and the immediate aftermath (meaning, when they woke me up and took me back to my room in the Neuro ICU) was infinitely better than the last time. Much more comfortable. Also, much (but not all) of what they saw on the MRI was actually scar tissue caused by the chemo pills and radiation treatments during the summer. The next day, after the physical therapist visited and I passed her walking test, the weekend neurologist covering the unit suggested I was well enough to go into the "step-down" unit (as described here). I made it quite clear that it was not happening. I believe my exact reply went like this: "NONONONONONOIWILLNOTGOTOTHESTEPDOWNUNITIWILLSIGNMYSELFOUTIFIHAVETO"

So I was actually moved to a regular room instead, and the next day I was released. Since then I've been at home, resting or going to the movies or doing a bit of shopping when my energy levels allowed. I had the neurosurgeon's office fax a letter to work informing them of my followup exam date (which is tomorrow) and that a determination would then be made as to when I can return to work. (Ugh.)

Meanwhile, today I had followups with both my chemo and radiation oncologists. When my chemo doctor explained what he felt had to be done next, I realized I was not gonna remember all of this sufficiently to inform the family and friends (and whatever strangers happen upon this). I was actually about to ask my doctor for paper to write on! Then I remembered my Galaxy Note 4. The one that came with a pen. He kindly gave me a minute to remember how to write a note on the screen.

Because the tumor did begin to grow again (and the pathology report did again show it was cancerous, BTW), he felt that the chemo and radiation did not work well enough and that, at this time, there won't be a resumption of chemo pills. Instead, in two weeks I will start getting a drug called Avastin. This will be given intravenously every two weeks (So I'm going to be working partial days every two weeks). Avastin, it is hoped, will slow the growth of tumors. The treatments will continue as long as it's working. It doesn't cause any nausea/vomiting but there is a chance of blood clot issues. They will need to monitor that and I'm supposed to try to be as active as I can, but for now I won't have to go on baby aspirin or blood thinners. The chemo doc wants a followup MRI in about 2-3 months. He thinks my neurosurgeon may want it sooner, though. Either way, if the Avastin by itself doesn't produce results, he would then want to add another drug to the mix and that one would have nausea/vomiting side effect potential. So let's keep our fingers crossed.

The radiation oncologist says there will be no further radiation at this time. The current information doesn't indicate it would be helpful. She said that, depending on what happens with the Avastin treatments, there may be some radiation treatments but only on a small pinpointed area. Nothing for now, however.

Further updates as they happen. Or eventually. And, once again, I thank everyone who has been praying and wishing me well and all that good stuff. It is very much appreciated.

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